January 11, 2023

Strengthening School Improvement in Palau through the Circles of Success Model

Co-Authored by: Eloise Sanchez, Sonja Evensen, Dr. Allison Layland, Dr. Janice Garland, and Bradley Patris

Abstract in English: The Circles of Success training supported the Palau Ministry of Education in building capacity in a comprehensive approach to transformational instruction, which includes applying concepts that were learned during the training to enhance classroom instruction efforts.


Abstract in Tekoi er a BelauA “Circles of Success” training a ulsisecheklii e ngilsouir a Palau Ministry of Education el mo keldmokl, meduch, semeriar, e sebechel el mo medengelii, e kutmemklii, sumecheklii el mo ungil a rolel a tekoi er a osisechakl, ng dirrek el uldimukl er ngii a ikel le siluub er se er a temel a training el mla er ngii el mo smisichii a osisecheklel a tekoi er a omesuub er a skuul.

The Region 18 Comprehensive Center (R18CC) started the 2023 Fiscal Year with a training in the Republic of Palau. R18CC held the training on October 3rd through October 7th, 2022, taking place at three designated elementary schools, which included Aimeliik, Ngaraard, and Peleliu Elementary Schools. The training was on the Circles of Success, a customized process for Palau schools to improve instruction. A team of four R18CC team members arrived in Palau on October 3rd, ready to work with principals and lead teachers for the week-long training. The R18CC team included Eloise Sanchez (Unit Lead), Sonja Evensen, Dr. Allison Layland, and Dr. Janice Garland. The Palau MOE scheduled three school visits while the R18CC team were in Palau.

“I was very excited about seeing and training staff at the schools, as you learn so much more about the culture, environment, and the learning atmosphere. I saw exactly what I have in the past. Teachers and principals are very dedicated to providing the best education to their students and therefore they are open to learning to improve their own teaching and leadership practices.”—Dr. Allison Layland

R18CC’s approach to Circles of Success is to build the capacity of Palau MOE staff to hold a series of discussions with a given school’s leadership team at the onset, which will then expand to encompass the faculty and school community. These discussions painted a vivid picture of the school’s current instructional practices, identified areas for improvement, and resulted in mapping a path forward to improve student learning.

The Circles of Success Model starts at the first circle with the School Leadership Team conducting a deep dive into their data, practices, and instructional system. The second circle includes engaging the faculty in reviewing the Team’s learnings and providing input. During the third circle, the Team identifies and prioritizes big conclusions to inform 90-day Actions Plans for change. It is an ongoing process that is aligned with school accreditation, where schools continuously review progress and adjust plans based on data, so that their instructional practices are improved to meet the needs of all students.  

Palauan educators engaged during a training
Photo by Cobi Jones

Palau MOE educators engaged in sharing their experiences during the Circles of Success training at Ngaraard Elementary School.

“I was looking forward to seeing our MOE Specialists again and meeting the new team members and perhaps expecting to meet some very dedicated principals and staff.”—Ms. Sonja Evensen

During the initial phase of the project, five schools—G. B. Harris, Koror, Meyuns, and Airai Elementary Schools and Palau High School (the only public high school)—undertook the process in the 2021–2022 School Year. During the second phase, seven schools—Aimeliik, Ngaraard, Ngarchelong, Ngardmau, Ngeremlengui, Melekeok, and Peleliu Elementary Schools—were added this school year, 2022–2023, making a total of twelve schools actively engaged in the process, including Palau’s biggest and only public high school, Palau High School. The first day of the training was spent at Aimeliik Elementary School. The teachers engaged in a practice review activity discussing evidence-based practices (EBPs) and identifying which ones were EBPs and which ones were not. Their discussions were rich and were followed by additional activities related to data and goal setting. This was continued with Ngaraard Elementary School on the second day. On the third day, the team traveled by boat to Peleliu Elementary School to engage their teachers and leaders in learning Circles of Success.


“I also thought the goal activity was great as that is one of the most difficult things to do, and without a solid clear, data-informed goal, a plan will go nowhere,” said Dr. Layland. “Also, the specialists’ participation was important. I could really see their growth since we first started two years ago.”

When asked what the team members thought school leaders and teachers needed more of, Dr. Layland and Ms. Evensen agreed that more time for understanding and improving the instructional system would help. “I would really like a follow-up to the training focused only on instruction, student engagement, and meeting the needs of students, including those with disabilities,” Dr. Layland stated.


Teacher Specialists from Cohort 1 were there to take part and assist the teachers in the seven additional schools. The teachers received a wealth of information that will help them with developing their action plans for change. In return, the R18CC team received a heart-warming welcome and an experience they said was one of their highlights of the year. Overall, the Circles of Success training was a success!  


A participant stated, “Information was relevant, and they helped me on how to work as a school team member to accomplish our school goals and objectives. Thank you so much.”  


Another participant, just like Dr. Layland and Ms. Evensen, wished there was more time: “Making the plans in school practical and doable. [I] wish we had more time spent on really writing the full 90-day plan.”  


There will be another workshop scheduled for March 2023. In the meantime, the MOE team is working on their plan throughout the year with R18CC supporting their work in the development of their 90-day Action Plans.  

For any questions about this project, please contact Ms. Eloise Sanchez, Senior Program Specialist at sancheze@prel.org. We would like to thank Simeon Adelbai for providing translation services for the “Tekoi er a Belau” abstract of this blog and Cobi Jones for providing pictures of the workshop that are used in this blog.


Type: Blog

Contact Us